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Fear is not a family value

We kissed our firstborn Good-Bye a couple hours before sunrise today because airfare favors early mornings nearly as much as our ten year old. I don’t think I slept all night, I was so excited, he tells us while bouncing out of bed. It’s his first big trip without us- visiting grandparents and cousins in Arkansas. He’s been counting the days and making his sisters jealous. It’s our turn to stay in Portland after the recent girl trip to Germany. 

My family of origin values responsibility and early independence. My dad left home when he was 12 to attend sports academy where East German boys were drilled for the Olympics. My mom took her first solo trip at age 11, riding the train from Germany to Hungary to stay with a host family she never met. It was a fun adventure, I wasn’t scared at all, she tells me. Her younger brother joined a famous boy’s choir when he was 9, only returning home occasionally on the weekend, riding the train by himself.

When I was five, my mother thought I would be excited to go shopping by myself. Our little grocery store was just across the street and all we needed was pears. Except I felt terrified and refused. My fear must have looked like defiance. Mom rehearsed the trip dozens of times before finally giving up. I was crying and had failed at independence.

Despite awkward beginnings, I turned out to be a pretty independent person. My first solo trip was to the US at age 16. No cell phone or email. I wasn’t sure if I could manage changing planes in Chicago. Didn’t know who exactly would pick me up in Sacramento…just someone from the college. I had the worst stomach cramps of my life right before the plane landed. It was late at night and the moon was full and no one was waiting to pick me up. I sat for a long time near the baggage area, marveling at the effortless, melodious flow of spoken English around me. My own words came forth toilsome and stiff, like I was using a typewriter blindfolded. Except that night I waited in silence, inhaling my fear one breath at a time, wondering if I would ever get picked up or if this would be it- me and my suitcase 5000 miles from home sputtering out bit of English typewriter style. Their small airport had nearly cleared out when at last someone came to get me and I felt safe again.

You can’t be too attached to personal safety and live an adventure at the same time. Carpooling with strangers is really popular in Germany because gas is expensive and so is the train. But there are also lots of crazy drivers. Aren’t you scared to ride with a stranger, I asked my cousin not too long ago. Nah, she says, poor pigs [German slang for someone who is broke] can’t afford to have fear

I have thought about that for a long time because sometime I think we can self protect ourselves right out of our calling. Fear keeps me put, makes me refuse to cross the street. Some fears are helpful of course. We must not jump into burning bushes or leap into oncoming traffic.

But sometimes our need for comfort and safety keeps us square on the couch of complacency. The longer we sit there, the more reasonable our fears start to sound. We buy into our own reality where logic reigns and we are in control. I know I do that.

Fear is not a family value. So we practice letting go together. I have been sending my ten year old into the store alone to buy bread. It needs to be sliced and if they are out of our favorite kind he has to make another decision. He is thrilled to perform this important task while I wait in the car. I love watching him skip back to the car, triumphantly swinging the loafs over his head. Do we need bread again? He’ll ask a couple days later because he can’t wait to feel this empowered again.

So I kiss him Good Bye-because he is beaming and can’t wait to board this plane without me. Who is going to bread for you now, he asks. We’ll manage, I assure him.

He is flying with other family members and will be surrounded by grandparents and cousins the next couple of weeks. He’ll change and grow, experience and live in ways he never would if he stayed on my couch. Fear is not a family value, transformation is.

Do one thing that scares you every day, says Eleanor Roosevelt. 

I did this morning. I kissed my firstborn Good Bye.

And no Good-Bye is complete without a few parting shots:

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we won’t know what do with ourselves without this:

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suzie

 

10 Replies

  1. What a fun story. You made me feel brave and ready for adventure. I also enjoyed your pictures at the end. What a great send-off.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks. Courage can be contagious….:)

  2. You are so right, Astrid! We can “protect ourselves right out of our calling”! You write beautifully, and I was drawn into your story from the very beginning. Fear comes far too easily for me, and this was such a beautiful reminder this morning to place my trust in God, not in myself and my own attempts at self-protection. Visiting this morning at #LiveFreeThursday.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks Janet. Fear comes far to easily for so many so you are not alone. Ultimately we are not in control which sometimes actually feeds my fear instead of releases it.. Trust and courage are a daily choice- thanks for reminding me of that.

  3. Heather Hensel

    This was so amazing and very true. I guess I never thought twice about pushing my baby bird from the nest testing his wings! I wanted him to experience everything my overly protective father denied me!
    As I look back on my life there are many things that I sat on the couch and never tried to overcome ! Sad .. But nothing can be done about it now ! Be free little birdies .. Live, Love and Fly!

    1. Astrid Melton

      Wow-interesting. Seems like we either copy our parents or do the exact opposite. I thinks its never too late to release your regrets and live as an over-comer even if there are certain opportunities that seems forever gone. Blessings to you my friend!

  4. When I was in Europe I was amazed at how freely children traveled and it reminded me of when I was little and my siblings and I went everywhere on bicycles. The difference was that these children traveled by train. I love the thought of giving our children wings, as much as we can! Thanks for being a part of #livefreeThursday.

    1. Astrid Melton

      True. I recently read a couple of interesting articles how American children are slaves to structured activity and are less free than any other kids in the world. It’s hard to implement values of freedom and independence for your children in a fear based culture.

  5. Beautifully written, Astrid!
    I enjoy your posts . You choose your words carefully – and each one counts. And you always leave a thought to mull over in my mind~
    Thank you!

    1. Astrid Melton

      I am happy to contribute to your brilliant mind. Thanks for reading.

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